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Working lives

Tony Smallman, 74, is a volunteer engineer with the National Trust Southern Region Route to job I graduated in civil engineering from Imperial College in 1947 and then did two years' National Service with the Royal Engineers.

After working for Waddington (no longer in existence) on several tunnelling contracts, I joined Wimpey's central estimating department, where I became involved in civil tenders at home and overseas. I cut away to Cementation Northern in 1960, but returned to Wimpey after two years and became a MICE in 1971.

During 30 years with Wimpey, I priced tenders for civil engineering works in 30-odd countries. It was a varied, high pressure and fastmoving life. I was chief civil estimator for two years before retiring at the end of 1984, when the post was abolished. I then spent some time with Brown & Root, assisting in the start up of a project in Libya, until my wife complained that this was no retirement, as I was working harder than I had been with Wimpey.

Expectations I wanted to keep my hand in and became involved in several small building and roadwork projects for the village where I lived, in Buckinghamshire. We then moved to West Sussex where I became the 'building specialist' for the village church and school, and a volunteer at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum. I worked for a while as a volunteer steward on a nearby National Trust property and was approached to become a volunteer for the Regional Building Department. I assumed the work would deal with the Trust's large well known properties.

The reality I have now been working for the National Trust for more than eight years, averaging 275 hours a year, and have covered projects in West Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. These include the design and installation of surface and foul water drainage, farm pollution drainage, water supply, retaining walls, footbridges, limekiln reconstruction and many bridge and building inspections.

These often necessitate drawings and specifications, and applications for planning approval. I have recently designed a 48m span, cable stayed footbridge, although this is yet to be constructed. Much of this work has involved the use of new British Standards or ones that have been radically revised since I retired. The work has helped to make me reasonably computer literate.

Advice Voluntary work for the National Trust Regional Building Departments, although not major, is extremely stimulating.

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